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Rod Carew

A photo of Rod Carew.

Rodney Cline "Rod" Carew (born October 1, 1945), is a former Major League Baseball infielder for the Minnesota Twins and the former California Angels from 1967 to 1985. He threw right-handed and batted left-handed.

Early life[]

Rod Carew was born to a Panamanian mother on a train in the town of Gatún, which, at that time, was in the Panama Canal Zone. The train was racially segregated; white passengers were given the better forward cars, while non-whites, like Carew's mother, were forced to ride in the rearward cars. When she went into labor, a Jewish physician traveling on the train, Dr. Rodney Cline, delivered the baby, who was named Rodney Cline Carew in appreciation.

At age 14, the Carews immigrated to the United States. He lived in the Washington Heights section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City. Rod Carew attended George Washington High School, which current Los Angeles Dodgers star left fielder Manny Ramirez attended. He signed an amateur free agent contract with the Minnesota Twins a day after graduating.[1] Three years later, he was called up and became a teammate of first baseman Harmon Killebrew. One of his teammates was a pitcher named Ron Kline.

Major League career[]

Rod Carew won the American League's Rookie of the Year award in 1967 and was an All-Star in every year but his final one, 1985. In his career, Carew won seven batting titles.

In 1972, Carew led the American League in batting, hitting .318 without hitting a single home run. He would finish his career with 92, but the 1972 was the only one in which he did not hit a home run. During the 1977 season he hit .388, which was, at the time, the highest since Boston's Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. In 1980, Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett would flirt with .400, but ultimately finished at .390. Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres hit .394 in 1994. To date, that is the closest anyone has come to hitting .400 in 500 or more at bats. For his efforts, Carew won the American League's Most Valuable Player award. In addition, Carew and Ty Cobb are the only players to lead both leagues in hitting in three consecutive seasons. Carew achieved it in 1973, 1974, and 1975.

Rod Carew also stole home 17 times in his career.[2]

Originally a second baseman, Carew moved to first base in September 1975 to lengthen his career. Frustrated by the Twins' inability to keep young talent as well as racist comments made by team owner Calvin Griffith [1] Carew announced his intention to leave the team in 1979. However, he was instead traded to the then-California Angels for outfielder Ken Landreaux, catcher/first baseman Dave Engle, right-handed pitcher Paul Hartzell, and left-handed pitcher Brad Havens.

On August 4, 1985, Carew joined an elite group of ballplayers when he got his 3,000th basehit against Minnesota Twins left-hander Frank Viola at the former Anaheim Stadium. Coincidentally, Chicago White Sox right-hander Tom Seaver won his 300th career game on the same day. The 1985 season would be his last. After the season, Rod Carew, a free agent, received no contract offers from other teams. Carew suspected that baseball owners were deliberately colluding to keep him from playing. The suspicion was justified; on January 10, 1995, nearly a decade after his forced retirement, arbitrator Thomas Roberts ruled that the owners had indeed violated the rules of baseball's second collusion agreement, which they had previously agreed to abide by. Rod Carew was awarded damages equivalent to what he would have likely received in 1986: $782,036. [2]

Rod Carew finished his career with 3,053 hits and a lifetime batting average of .328.

Rod Carew was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, his first year of eligibility. He was the 22nd player so elected. In 1999, he ranked #61 on The Sporting News'' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for Major League Baseball's All-Century Team.

Military service[]

During the 1960's, Rod Carew served a 6-year commitment in the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a combat engineer.

Confusion over conversion to Judaism[]

Rod Carew has never formally converted to Judaism. However, he married a Jewish woman and his children were raised in the Jewish tradition. A chief source propagating the misconception that Carew converted to Judaism is the 1994 song, The Chanukah Song, written and performed by Jewish entertainer Adam Sandler, in which he lists famous Jews of the 20th century. He names Carew thusly: "...O.J. Simpson... not a Jew! But guess who is: Hall of Famer Rod Carew — he converted". Sandler has reiterated this mistake in later incarnations of the song.

Adding to the confusion is an article written in Esquire magazine in 1976. Jewish sportswriter Harry Stein released his "All Time All-Star Argument Starter" article which consisted of five different baseball teams, each based on ethnicity. Rod Carew was erroneously named the second baseman on Stein's All-Jewish team.

After Retirement[]

Carew moved to the upscale community of Anaheim Hills, California while playing with the Angels and remained there upon announcing his retirement. [3] Following his retirement, Rod Carew has worked as a hitting coach for the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers and is credited with helping develop young hitters like Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, and Tim Salmon.

On January 19, 2004, Panama City's National Stadium was renamed "Rod Carew Stadium". [3] In 2005, Carew was named the second baseman on the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team.

His uniform number 29 has been retired by both the Twins and the Angels.

Carew's daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with leukemia in September, 1995. Her rare Panamanian-Jewish heritage dramatically lowered possibility of finding a matching donor for a bone marrow transplant. In spite of Carew's heartfelt pleas for those of similar ethnic background to come forward, no donor did and one could not be found. Michelle Carew died on April 17, 1996 at the age of 18. A statue of her has been installed in Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

In 2010, Mr. Carew formed Rod Carew Baseball (RCB), which is committed to being the premier baseball/softball company dedicated to the art and science of hitting. The Company develops, manufactures, and markets hitting and training tools to improve a player's hitting skills. RCB's flagship product is the GAPHitter - the ultimate hitting aid. RCB's corporate offices are located in Chicago, IL, with satellite offices in Boston and Los Angeles.

Chewing tobacco use[]

Carew began using chewing tobacco in 1964 and was a regular user up to 1992, when a cancerous growth in his mouth was discovered and removed. The years of use had heavily damaged his teeth and gums, and Carew has spent a reported $100,000 in restorative dental work. [4] Use in baseball has markedly declined. The home teams used to provide players chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco ("snuff" or "dip"), but have been prohibited from doing it since 1993. [5]

See also[]


  1. "This Week In Baseball History - Week ending 10/5", Sporting News, October 8, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2008. "In 1958, the Carew family migrated to America and settled in the Washington Heights section of New York City."
  2. Stealing Home Base Records by Baseball Almanac
  3. McCurdie, Jim. "They Have Carew's Number", Los Angeles, 1986-10-13. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.

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